Cory Booker, Oakland, and Racial Justice in the Cannabis Community


Last week, US Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) introduced a bill that would not only legalize cannabis under federal law, but would put pressure on states to legalize cannabis at the state level. This is an excellent idea. No one should go to jail for using, growing, or buying cannabis, and studies have shown that  law enforcement agencies arrest people of color for cannabis “crimes” way more often than they arrest white people, even though  both groups use and sell cannabis at the same rate.  The bill stands little chance of passing (USAG Jeff “Let’s double down on the War on Drugs” Sessions definitely hates it, but we probably won’t know what Donald Trump thinks until he tweets about it), but it is a good start.

The federal government should legalize cannabis and should pressure states to legalize as well.  States that have allowed cannabis legalization have seen fewer deaths from opioid overdose, as well as increased job creation and enhanced sales tax revenue .

While the federal government continues to wallow in the failure of the War on Drugs, some states and cities have embraced legalization. Colorado and Oregon are raking in the cash. Nevada almost ran of of legal weed in the first week because demand was so , er, high.  And over in Oakland, CA, the city council recently passed am ordinance  that not only encourages the creation of new cannabis businesses, but gives licensing priority to people that have been arrested fpr cannabis “crimes” .  Aw yeah. This is how it should be. Like cannabis activist Chris Conrad says: “It’s not a rap sheet, it’s a resume”.  Folks that lost their livelihoods in the War on Drugs should be the first folks to get a chance to capitalize on these newly legal opportunities.

Listen: It’s not “40 acres and a mule” but any steps taken to repair the damage  done to communities of color by the racist and ,misguided War on Drugs is a step in the right direction.

Ngaio Bealum is a writer, comedian, cannabis activist, and a decent juggler. You can catch him on the road and MCing the International Cannabis Business Conference. Follow him on the social medias. @ngaio420

Featured photo credit: Sean Davis